Why China Loves Big Daddy Xi
|April 30th, 2018|
|tags:||Big Daddy Xi, censorship, corruption, democracy, Xi Jin Ping|
The nickname speaks volumes about how the nation feels about its Chairman, particularly when the constitution has just been rewritten for the first time in history to allow presidents to serve for life.
The bold move has made news around the globe with headlines like: ‘China allows Xi to remain president indefinitely, tightening his grip on power’ and ‘Why Abolishing China's Presidential Term Limits Is Such a Big Deal.’
But is it such a big deal? And how do the people of China really feel?
If this legislation was implemented in any Western country, there’s no doubt there’d be an uproar.
But, I can tell you, from personal experience, despite living in a country where democracy plays no part in the political platform, the majority of Chinese are buoyant about the current Communist Party running their country, particularly President Xi.
In the annual Edelman Trust Barometer published last month measuring sentiment internationally, 84 per cent of respondents in China said that they had "trust" in the government. And it was the highest among the 28 countries surveyed.
In rural areas, the man who’s confessed to liking American action movies and Mark Twain is almost God-like. Just like with Mao, there are pictures of Xi plastered everywhere of the man also called ‘Princeling’ for his illustrious roots. His story is well known, the child of elite senior officials who has risen up the ranks, his family’s fortunes took a drastic turn when his father was purged in 1962 prior to the Cultural Revolution and imprisoned.
At the age of 15, Xi was sent to the countryside for "re-education" and hard labour in a remote and poor village.
He is a man of many nicknames. Winnie the Pooh the innocent bear, has become a political meme on Chinese social media with netizens likening Xi’s appearance to the bear. Subsequently Winnie the Pooh has now been banned in China by censors.
But despite the lack of democracy, extreme censorship and strict rules on what is and isn’t part of the nation’s ethos, the recent lifting of his time limit in power hasn’t ruffled too many feathers. (Not that many would be game to say.)
In the minds of the average Chinese person, particularly the elder generation, who have seen the country emerge out of mass poverty in China, Xi has only increased China’s standing.
The country is on the rise, its ordinary people are better off than they've been in centuries, and their government is waging a vigorous campaign against the problem that Chinese have long nominated as their biggest concern: corruption.
In a world where countries are torn over their leaders, currently President Xi can do no wrong and nor can his wife, Peng LiYuan, famous in her own right as a Chinese contemporary folk singer and performing artist. Peng also has her own nickname. ‘Peng Mama’. The fact that Xi treats his wife as an equal is seen as a great example to the people in a place where chivalry and equality are still being learned.
Since taking power in 2013, the 64-year-old has become the most popular president since Chairman Mao Zedong – the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, who lead China from 1949 through the Cultural Revolution to his death in 1976.
If he stays on for more than ten years, authorities say it prevents alternative leaders from undoing his good work. He’ll have more freedom to achieve the ‘Chinese Dream’ of prosperity, collective effort, socialism, and national glory and gives him the freedom and resources to achieve the twin goals known as the “Two Centenaries” – a moderately well-off society by 2021 and a democratic, civilised, harmonious, and modern socialist country by 2049.
If his health permits, Xi wants to serve 20 years, which would mean until 2032 as secretary-general of the party, and 2033 as state president.
The fact of the matter is, there is no term limit for the party’s general secretary and the chairman of the Central Military Commission, the two most powerful positions in the Chinese political structure. Xi currently holds both. The presidency is mainly a ceremonial post. It holds much less weight than the other two posts within the Chinese political system. Xi does not need to make the change to increase his power
As the Australian newspapers China Correspondent Rowan Callick said, “The presidency is the title that provides him with the prestige and protocol to be accorded maximum respect as he travels internationally on his great new mission to elevate China towards succeeding the US as the world’s greatest power.”
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